Atholl & Breadalbane Gathering Results

By The Editor

If we paid too much heed to weather forecasts in Scotland we would never go anywhere. A black deluge was forecast for yesterday but Wade Park in Aberfeldy had only one major and one minor shower during a warm, sunny day. The wrath of the Gods was reserved for the journey home. Only old India hands will have known anything like the volume of water that descended on the A9 and all other roads south from teatime onwards.

But we eventually made it back through flood and field and I am now able to give you my report on the day’s playing. There were nine senior pipers and four juniors. Fellow judge Ronnie Clark and I split our duties. I did the ceol beag and Ronnie the ceol mor. All contests were own choice. The first prize winners, Bobby Allen, David Bruce, Donald MacPhee and Jason Craig are pictured above.

Here are the full results:

1 Donald MacPhee, Alexandria
2 Greig Wilson, Fife
3 Finlay Clark, Crieff
4 Anna Smart, New Zealand
5 Mark MacKenzie, Australia
6 Jason Craig, Australia

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1 Jason Craig
2 Greig Wilson
3 Donald MacPhee
4 Chris McLeish, Australia
5 Finlay Clark
6 Michael Harvey, N Ireland

Strathspey & Reel
1 Jason Craig
2 Chris McLeish
3 Greig Wilson
4 Donald MacPhee
5 Anna Smart
6 David Bruce

Senior pipers Donald MacPhee, Chris McLeish, Michael Harvey and Greig Wilson:

Slow Air & Jig
1 David Bruce
2 Donald MacPhee
3 Greig Wilson
4 Chris McLeish
5 Mark MacKenzie
6 Michael Harvey

Junior MSR
1 Bobby Allen
2 Archie Clark
3 Dugald MacKechnie
4 Duncan MacDonald

Some pictures in the Juniors:

Junior Jig
1 Bobby Allen
2 Duncan MacDonald
3 Archie Clark
4 Dugald MacKechnie

Piping convenor Gordon Clark asked me to say a few words at the end. I thanked all the pipers for attending and continuing to support our Highland games tradition. I commented briefly on on the indifferent jig playing. I think the bands are to blame.

Everything is even-noted to match drumming. Passable if the tempo is up, but trudgingly mundane if not – as it was at Aberfeldy. An exception here was the winner David Bruce, formerly Pipe Major of the Dumbarton band. On the solo platform jigs need to be pointed a little to get the correct lilt into them. Read further advice here.

Sounding good….Vale of Atholl were the duty band at Aberfeldy

Good jig playing is a real skill and pipers err when they dismiss it as not worth the bother. Choose the right tune, phrase and point a shade and these tunes are rewarding to play and always pleasing for the listener.

The slow air provided another difficulty. Converted song airs are not what most judges are looking for. What is wrong with My Home, Flight of the Eaglets, Leaving Lochboisdale, Loch Rannoch and the like? Keep the slurs and superfluous technique for the ceilidh. Oh, and don’t play those ugly, heavy throws on D either.

Tonight in Edinburgh, don’t miss this gala occasion…..

The March and Strathspey and Reel playing was of a better standard with two professional runs from Jason Craig now domiciled in this country from his home city of Canberra, Australia. Jason had the best pipe of the day (in the light music anyway). There were other good instruments from Finlay Clark and Greig Wilson

Donald MacPhee played well but a few small slips pushed him down the list. There was good stuff from another Australian Chris McLeish, just a little clipped with his work.

Greig Wilson from Fife, sporting an SFU bag cover, had, as I say, a sweet pipe and ran Jason close in the march. Michael Harvey from Northern Ireland, a piper with the PSNI, easily won the best dressed award but would do better if he was less exagerrated in his marching style and his jig, the Blue Lagoon, is, like all blue lagoons, inviting but not always safe.

Senior pipers David Bruce, Anna Smart, Jason Craig, Mark MacKenzie and Finlay Clark:

I’ll close with a story from Ronnie. He was born at Lonach in Strathdon. During WW2 his father, also a piper, worked as an Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Warden. A regular watch spot for him was the Doune of Invernochty (yes, the same one) a small local mound on which once stood a castle. His companion was often Willie Grant, Pipe Major of the Lonach Pipe Band, the composer of the tune.

Usually not much happened as you can imagine and they would pass the long Highland nights entertaining themselves with hilltop tunes on the chanter. But one evening they heard an ominous hum and spotted a small red light moving across the sky. Without any form of communication other than their legs, ‘Fit’ll we day?’, says Willie. ‘Ach, it’s probably naethin’ at a’, says Clark senior and on they went with their music.

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